WOMEN'S BASKETBALL MAKES IT FIVE IN A ROW WITH 83-78 VICTORY AT PORTLAND STATE
PORTLAND, Ore. - The Sacramento State women's basketball team shot 60.0 percent from the field (21-of-35) in the second half, coming back from a five-point halftime deficit to defeat the Portland State Vikings by a score of 83-78 and pick up their fifth straight win.
With the victory, the Hornets improve to 9-12 overall, 5-4 inside of Big Sky Conference play. The five-game win streak is the team's largest since the 1992-93 season, while the nine wins on the season tie for the most since the 1995-96 season. The five Big Sky Conference victories also mark the second most since the team joined the league. The win over the Vikings was Sacramento State's first over Portland State (12-10, 6-3) since the 2005-06 season.
Trailing 55-45 with 13:26 remaining in the game, Sacramento State went on a 13-2 run over the next 2:47 to take their first lead of the second half at 58-57. The run started with a three-pointer by junior Tika Koshiyama-Diaz, which was followed by a jumper by junior Emily Christensen (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) and another three from Koshiyama-Diaz. Senior Charday Hunt (Portland, Ore.) then made a jumper in the paint, which was followed by a three-pointer by senior Ashley Garcia (Antioch, Calif.) which gave the Hornets the lead.
Portland State had the immediate answer as Kelly Marchant knocked down a three-pointer to give the Vikings a two point lead right back with 10:08 remaining. The lead went back-and-forth between the two teams, with neither team taking more than a three point lead until just before the final buzzer. After Eryn Jones made a pair of free throws with 2:24 left to give the Vikings a 76-74 lead, Christensen took over. Three of the next four Hornet possessions resulted in Christensen layups, including the eventual game-winner with 50.7 seconds remaining that gave the Hornets an 80-78 lead.
Portland State had several chances to tie or take the lead in the next possession, as Claire Faucher missed a fade-away 15 footer, Jones then got the offensive rebound and found Lexi Bishop in the corner who missed an open three. Erin Yankus got another Viking offensive rebound with nine seconds remaining, but had the ball stolen away by Garcia. Garcia quickly got the ball to Hunt, who was fouled and knocked down the first of two free throws to give Sacramento State a 81-78 lead with 5.1 seconds remaining. Hunt missed the second foul shot, but the Vikings Kate DePaepe, who grabbed the rebound, threw the ball out of bounds, giving the Hornets the basketball. Koshiyama-Diaz hit 2-of-2 at the foul line with 0.1 seconds, giving the Hornets an 83-78 victory.
"They didn't give the game to us, we definitely took it," head coach Jamie Craighead said following the win. "On the road we always talk about staying in games until the end so you can steal them from the home team, and down the stretch our kids hit big shots and steals when they had to."
The Hornets struggled shooting the basketball in the first half, shooting just 31.4 percent from the field (11-of-35) to trail by five, 36-31, at the half. Senior Erika Edwards (Redmond, Wash.) kept the Hornets in the contest during the opening 20 minutes, going 4-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc to lead all scorers with 12 points at intermission. She finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds, which marked her second double-double of the season and five three-pointers. She saw her perfect season at the foul line, however, end with a 1-of-2 performance. She entered the contest having made all 26 of her free throws this season.
Christensen led all scorers with 23 points, as she finished 11-of-24 from the field and 1-of-2 from the foul line, just one point shy of tying her career-high. Koshiyama-Diaz joined Edwards in scoring 16 points, as the junior guard made 4-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc, a career-high, and knocked down 4-of-6 at the line. Garcia, the reigning Big Sky Player of the Week, once again provided a stellar contest, scoring 13 points and dishing out 10 assists for her first career double-double. Hunt, the Big Sky's leading scorer averaging 18.4 points per game, was held to seven points, which was just her second game this season under double-figures.
All five Hornet starters played over 30 minutes, led by Edwards who saw the floor for 38 of the 40 minutes in the contest.
"I know that my kids were tired, but they played through it and they mentally stepped up," Craighead said. "They didn't quit, they never gave up, and I think winning basketball games helps your confidence level when you get down to the end of games."
Sacramento State, who had been winning games in conference play by making more free throws than their opponents had been attempting, struggled at the foul line, going just 9-of-18 (50.0 percent). What picked them up, however, was a 10-of-20 performance from beyond the three-point arc and a 45.7 percent shooting percentage from the field (32-of-70), their second highest mark of the season.
Portland State was led by Yankus, who scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Faucher and Marchant each ended the contest with 14 points, with Marchant scoring 12 of her points in the second half.
Sacramento State faces another road test on Saturday, Feb. 6 as they take on conference leading Eastern Washington. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. from Reese Court, and the game will be broadcast live on www.hornetsports.com beginning with the coach Jamie Craighead show at 6:50 p.m.